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Makes 8 servings: 1 slice each
I actually wanted to title this pink velvet cheesecake, but I thought the guys might be scared off! So I stuck to a name that this cheesecake is truly inspired by … red velvet cake. I love the concept of the cake, but I never eat it since it’s usually made with totally fake red food coloring. Artificial food coloring doesn’t belong in our food—let alone our bodies! So I used beets for a real color. Hence, the rich natural fuchsia tone rather than a neon red color in this luxurious recipe. It’s a creamy cheesecake, not a cake. That makes this almost like indulging in the best of two dessert worlds in one. Savor every sweet bite!
Calories Saved: 280
1 small beet, peeled and cut into 8 slices (3½ ounces slices)
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
12 ounces Neufchâtel (light cream cheese), at room temperature
1/3 cup turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg + 2 large egg whites
1 recipe Homemade Chocolate Crust (see below)
1 recipe Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream (see below)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Arrange beet slices in a single layer on a large piece unbleached parchment paper. Through wrap up and place seam side down on a large microwave-safe plate. Steam in the microwave until fully softened, about 3 1/2 minutes. (Steaming time will vary.) Keep wrapped and let stand for about 5 minutes to complete the steaming process.
- Carefully unwrap and transfer the beets and any residual beet juices to a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon cold water and the lemon juice and pulse until pureed, scraping the sides a couple times. Add the Neufchâtel to the beet puree in the food processor and blend until velvety creamy and evenly pink, about 3 minutes, scraping the sides a couple times. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, cocoa powder, and salt and blend until smooth. Add the egg and egg whites and blend until smooth. Pour the batter into the crust. Bake until the center is just set, about 32 to 35 minutes.
- Cool in the pan on a rack. Transfer to the refrigerator until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
- Cut the cheesecake into 8 wedges. Serve each slice topped with Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream.
Per serving: 320 calories, 20g total fat, 11g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 65mg cholesterol, 320mg sodium, 30g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 19g sugars, 7g protein
Homemade Chocolate Crust
6 ounces all-natural or organic chocolate grahams, like Annie’s Chocolate Bunny Grahams, or chocolate wafer cookies
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil or melted unsalted butter
2 teaspoons honey or agave nectar
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add the chocolate grahams to a food processor. Pulse until coarsely crumbled. Add the oil and honey and blend until finely crumbled. Pour into a standard 9-inch (PFOA-free) nonstick pie pan, pressing firmly to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake until fragrant and firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to completely cool before filling.
(Note: Prefer a shortcut? Use a 9-inch ready-to-use all-natural chocolate pie crust instead.)
Honey-Vanilla Whipped Cream
Pour the cream into a chilled mixing bowl. Using wire whisk attachment of an electric mixer, whip the cream on medium speed until it begins to thicken. Drizzle in the honey and vanilla extract and whip on medium-high speed until soft or stiff peaks form. Use immediately for topping the cheesecake. If soft peaks, dollop or spread the whipped cream on top of the cheesecake; if stiff peaks, pipe with a pastry bag fitted with a star tip.
The “Before” Recipe
The natural red velvet cheesecake tasteover was inspired by red velvet cheesecake recipe on FoodNetwork.com.
Per serving: 600 calories, 41g total fat, 23g saturated fat, 1g trans fat, 190mg cholesterol, 460mg sodium, 51g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 41g sugars, 9g protein
- Skip the artificial food coloring. Color with wholesomeness by using fruits or veggies, like beets
- Use Neufchâtel instead of regular cream cheese for a little less saturated fat and fewer calories, but then pump up flavor elsewhere; sometimes a pinch of salt is all that’s required, even in a dessert
- Nice-size the dessert—around 300 or so calories is reasonable (less is good too, of course)
- If you like, finish with a rich ingredient, like a dollop of real whipped cream, to add lusciousness to a lighter dessert